Not too long ago I came across a someone who was profoundly fundamentalist. What do I mean by “fundamentalist”?
Fundamentalists believe that not only do they know what God wants them to do – they know what God wants me to do too! This is appallingly arrogant and narcissistic on two counts. First, it insists that the fundamentalist somehow knows more than other people know about others’ own lives. Second, it insists that the fundamentalist knows more than God (Spirit) working in the heart of the other person! This is pathological narcissism at its worst.
I was raised in a fundamentalist home by parents masquerading as Catholic. Catholicism, by definition, rejects fundamentalism. The term “Fundamentalist Catholic” is an impossibility and an oxymoron.
Catholicism requires on-going reflection and listening to the Spirit; in one’s heart, in one’s life, in one’s prayer. We can never know what God is calling someone else to do. The truth is that it’s often difficult to know for sure what God wants us to do. One of the fruits of the Spirit is that God will often lead us to a surprising decision, one we hadn’t considered or thought of. Usually, it’s a decision others haven’t thought of either. This belief that every person must search and follow their own conscience is called “Primacy of Conscience.” It’s a cornerstone of Catholicism.
From my upbringing I do know that fundamentalists are closed-minded, controlling and judgmental. Any attempts to convince them that they may not know best for others will result in denial, inappropriate displays of anger or manipulative behavior.
On the other hand, living in the Spirit is welcoming, curious, engaging and joyful. One is death-dealing, the other life-giving. We must choose with whom we spend our brief, but precious lifetime.
Fundamentalists repel others the way oil repels water. In the end, I think it’s true that God/reality separates the wheat from the weeds (Matt 13:24-30).